Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Somewhat Inconvenient Truth

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon teaches us that much of our striving is as useless as trying to "shepherd the wind."  Here is a favorite passage from Jeff Meyers' commentary on Ecclesiastes, A Table in the Mist:

In spite of life's vaporous nature, God can be trusted.  God and life can be enjoyed despite the fact that life cannot be mastered, leveraged, or even fully comprehended by man.  Solomon uses the word hebel as a description of the enigmatic, mysterious, intractable character of life under the sun for man - even for the Christian man!  Faith recognizes this and, in the face of it, moves forward to claim and enjoy the life and work and happiness that God apportions as gifts to man.

Realizing this can help you deal with life in a  way that honors God.  For example, do not be surprised to find yourself in a frustrating situation from which you cannot escape by means of controlling it.  Not everything can be fixed!  Not everything is a problem to be solved.  Some things must be borne, must be suffered and endured.  Wisdom does not teach us how to master the world.  It does not give us techniques for programming life such that life becomes orderly and predictable. 

In fact, trying to gain a wisdom that will give you control may make you worse off.  It is precisely the task, the work, the endeavor, the toil of mastering life that is  vapor - a chasing after dust devils!  Instead of gaining leverage, you will only add to your frustration.  Solomon carries out a direct frontal assault on the very idea that humanity is able to leverage creation for his own purposes, to wrestle order out of God's inscrutable ways.  Wisdom - real biblical wisdom - is not the art of steering or programming the world according to man's purposes.  Wisdom does not advise man to search for order or to attempt to master life.  Under the sun, one cannot know, one cannot predict, one cannot trace causal connections.  Who knows why things happen?  Often, trying to figure it out is simply chasing after the wind as if we can catch and contain it.  One can only hope and believe.  Rejoice in what God has given you to do and trust in him.  This is the perspective of faith.


Susan said...

I love this Lori. Thanks for sharing it ... I needed to read it today and I was considering all that seems so evil in our world and the why's behind it.

Lori Shaffer said...

Glad it was helpful, Susan. I needed the reminder myself. Psalm 73 is another great place to remind ourselves that although the pain and wickedness we see and experience so often seems contrary to the reality of Christ's kingship, we must enter his sanctuary and remember that one day the whole creation will be set right and redeemed. May God grant you blessings, perseverance and faith as we await that day!